New Housing Plans Could Cause 'Total Ecological Collapse' Of UK Rivers, Warn Campaigners

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove is set to announce plans to make it easier to build houses near rivers, according to reports.
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Ministers have been accused of telling “lies” about their commitment to the environment amid reports the government will rip up water pollution rules.

Levelling up secretary Michael Gove is set to announce plans to make it easier to build houses near rivers, according to The Guardian.

This will be done by scrapping the so-called “nutrient neutrality” law which blocks developments if they add to the pollution in nearby waterways.

According to The Sun, the nutrient neutrality rules could be downgraded to guidance only, meaning they can be ignored by local councils.

Reacting to the reports, environment campaigner Feargal Sharkey said on Twitter: “THEY LIED!

“The last pretence that this govt gives a hoot about the environment finally blown asunder.

The former lead singer of the The Undertones added: “Greenest govt ever? Lie. Not lower enviro standards? Lie. Leave rivers in a better state? Lie. All of it, lies.”

A government source had told the BBC they would “more than offset” any pollution caused.

But Sharkey said: “NOTE: You cannot offset a dead river.”

Lib Dem environment spokesperson Tim Farron blasted the government plan as a “disgraceful act”.

“The Conservatives seem happy for Britain’s rivers to get even worse,” he said.

“If ministers actually cared about our rivers they would clean them up rather than scrapping the few rules in place that protect them.”

Craig Bennett, the CEO of the Wildlife Trusts said: “Simply put, scrapping nutrient neutrality means yet more poo in our rivers.

“This will be Rishi Sunak ’s legacy. If we still want to achieve our environmental targets, then there will now have to be far greater cuts in pollution from agriculture than previously envisaged,” he said on Twitter.

Katie-Jo Luxton, the RSPB’s director of conservation, said: “The failure to properly protect and invest in restoring our most important wildlife sites and rivers is a national scandal.

“If nutrient neutrality rules are scrapped, pollution will accumulate unchecked and our rivers face total ecological collapse.”

But Conservative MP Simon Clarke, a former levelling up secretary, defended the plan.

“This is not an attack on nature. New homes aren’t the problem - it’s poor management by our water companies and (to some extent) farming practices,” he said.

“This is a vital step to unlock new homes. Nutrient neutrality is a de facto ban on 100,000 homes where planning permission has already been granted, spanning 74 local authorities the length of the country. We have a housing crisis and they are needed desperately.”


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